New Delhi: The leaked videos of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) minister Satyendar Jain allegedly getting favourable treatment at Tihar Jail may have given much ammunition to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the municipal polls, but a section of BJP leaders feels that equal attention should now be given to developmental issues and the party’s vision for Delhi.
The videos created quite a ‘buzz’ as they came out just ahead of the Delhi municipal elections. The BJP alleged that Jain — who is in prison in connection with a money laundering case — was being given VIP treatment in jail. Many in the party said it had helped them shift the narrative against AAP and that even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was unable to counter it.
However, with barely a few days left for voting day, a section of Delhi BJP leaders is known to be upset that the entire focus of the election has shifted to the videos, and that the party has not been able to highlight the “good governance” by the three erstwhile civic agencies and point out what is its vision for Delhi.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections are scheduled to be held on 4 December and results are to be declared on 7 December. This year’s battle for the MCD seems to be pitched primarily between the BJP and AAP.
The BJP has been in power in the MCD since 2007. This includes its rule over three separate corporations — the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) — into which the civic body was split between 2012 and 2022. The three were re-unified by the BJP-led Union government earlier this year. In the last municipal elections in Delhi in 2017, the BJP had won 181 of a total of 272 seats across the three erstwhile civic bodies.
‘Getting repetitive, need to focus on development agenda’
“Initially it was fine as not only have we highlighted the issues of morality as far as AAP is concerned but at the same time people are able to realise the true nature of the party and its leaders,” said a BJP functionary, adding: “Everyday there are press conferences dedicated to this issue and on a given day, a number of leaders are highlighting the issue. Now it is getting repetitive and after a point even people are pointing out that all this is fine but what is your [party’s] developmental agenda for Delhi.”
On Monday, the state unit of the party shared mock posters of Kejriwal and Jain inspired by the US TV series ‘Prison Break’.
In USA: Prison Break series
In Delhi: Prison (में) Break series
Relax , Rejuvenate, Rejoice in Tihar courtesy AAP govt. pic.twitter.com/Ro99nmG90G
— BJP Delhi (@BJP4Delhi) November 28, 2022
A senior party leader said that the entire focus has shifted to the leaked videos and the energy of the state unit is being spent on targeting AAP on the issue.
“Earlier, we were making the mistake of just targeting Arvind Kejriwal which doesn’t stick with people. The BJP has done so much for Delhi in the past several years at the municipal level and we need to highlight the work done by our councillors and even now the Centre has helped us. Voters also want to know what we have done in the past and what we are offering them in terms of an alternative,” the leader told ThePrint.
Earlier, much before the Jain videos came out, the BJP had been highlighting the alleged liquor scam of the AAP-led Delhi government and had also put up a list of its own achievements in the form of hoardings. AAP, on the other hand, has been targeting the BJP over the garbage problem in the city and alleged corruption in the three erstwhile civic bodies.
In its manifesto, the BJP has listed its major achievements as the door-to-door collection of waste with the help of tippers at more than 60 per cent of locations in Delhi. The civic agency has also claimed that more than 7.5 lakh street lights have been converted to LED.
The manifesto further states that around 60 per cent of all street lights in Delhi are powered by solar energy, saving the corporation Rs 140 crore. The party has also promised to reduce property tax in Delhi.
“Rather than focusing on our manifesto or highlighting the main promises of the BJP we are merely concentrating on targeting Satyendar Jain. There are so many schemes of the Delhi government that are flawed and even at the civic level the promises they are making are untenable. We should be highlighting all that. Even the impact [of the leaked videos] on the public has started to wean off,” said the senior party leader quoted earlier.
According to a party source, due to in-fighting at the state level too, there is a lot of discontent among party functionaries. Many senior leaders say that they were not consulted by the state unit when the manifesto was being drafted.
“Had they asked us, we could have given valuable suggestions but no one bothered. The entire MCD elections can’t be reduced to these leaked videos and targeting Kejriwal. Even now in the last few days we should at least be telling the voters what we have done and what we hope to do for Delhi,” said another BJP functionary.
‘No wave, need better outreach’
A number of Delhi BJP leaders are of the view that since there is “no wave” in favour or against any party in the MCD elections hence, the party needs to be more aggressive, focus on reaching out to as many voters as possible, and concentrate on its own booth-level management to ensure more people turn up to vote for it.
“There is no denying that the party is facing significant anti-incumbency and our situation has improved in the past few days due to a campaign by our senior leaders but we need to be more aggressive,” said the second party functionary mentioned above.
Another senior party leader said that the central leadership is aware of the issue and it has been decided to carry out another round of campaigning by senior ministers and party leaders including Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Bhupender Yadav and Anurag Thakur.
A number of key issues and strategies for MCD elections were also taken up in an organisational meeting of the party held Monday, which was attended by national general secretary of the BJP Sunil Bansal, Delhi BJP in-charge Baijayant Panda and other senior leaders.
“The situation is changing every single day and we are confident of winning. The last few days will make a lot of difference. The presence of these ministers will help us explain our vision for Delhi and create a positive atmosphere for the BJP,” said the senior BJP leader.
(Edited by Anumeha Saxena)